CLAPTON’S FA CUP AND FA YOUTH CUP DRAWS ANNOUNCED

The FA Vase draw was announced today but Clapton are already through to the first round proper

Clapton have been drawn away at FC Clacton in the FA Cup extra preliminary round.

The trip to the Essex seaside to face the Eastern Counties League club, who play at the same level as Clapton, will be on August 5th, the week after the Essex Senior League campaign begins.

If the Tons get through that, they’ll earn £1,500, then face Norwich United at home in the preliminary round two weeks later, August 19th.

Get past the Isthmian League North side and there’s just another 12 wins before we see Jerry Jairette lift the FA Cup trophy at Wembley.

Meanwhile Clapton did not feature in the FA Vase draw after being handed a bye to the first round proper for finishing in the top 4 in the Essex Senior League. They will make their debut on October 21st.

The Tons are also in the FA Youth Cup, and will travel away to Thurrock or Aveley during the week of September 18th.

Last season the team was withdrawn days before their tie due to lack of players, following the axing of the club’s youth system, but New Revolution Sports have stepped in to relaunch it now.

All three draws were made today behind closed doors at the FA HQ and published online this lunchtime.

MEET THE 11 NEW TONS – THE WHO’S WHO OF CLAPTON’S SUMMER SIGNINGS

There have been lots of comings and goings at the Old Spotted Dog this summer

At Essex Senior League level there’s inevitably a high turnover of players from one season to the next.

Several members of last season’s history-making runners-up squad have moved on from Clapton to pastures new ahead of the upcoming 2017/8 season,

Disappointing for fans, but few could complain about players moving up the football pyramid. We’re planning a feature on the destination of former Tons soon.

However, as players leave, others arrive and there have already announced 10 new additions.

Allow us to introduce the new Tons…

Ignas Budvytis (goalkeeper)

Former clubs: Winchmore Hill (2016/17), Waltham Abbey U18s (2016/17), West Thurrock (2016/17)

Mark Kavanagh (goalkeeper)

Former clubs: None.

Mark told CFC News: “I’m 22 and Clapton will be the first team I’ve ever played for. I was invited to come down for pre-season and after hearing many good things about the club, I would’ve been stupid not to sign!

“As of the season ahead, I’m very confident! The lads are pulling their weight in training & there’s a good spirit around the camp. After last season’s second place finish we’ve only got one thing in mind & that’s to go one better!”

Josh Flynn (right-back)

Former clubs: Ebbsfleet United Academy, Grays Athletic Reserves, Redbridge.

Josh told CFC News: “I’m 21 but I’ve had about a year out of the game. I play right back but I consider myself a wing back, always overlapping and supporting the play as an outlet and getting crosses into the box.

“I feel like I can develop here. Great fans and contenders for the league. I don’t see why we can’t go one better than last season and gain promotion.”

Mustafa Kahie (midfield/full-back)

Former clubs: Eton Manor, Sporting Bengal, London APSA and Braintree Town.

Mustafa is back for his second stint at the club, after briefly playing some friendlies in pre-season last year. The 22-year-old – a midfielder who can also operate at full back – went on to make 24 starts for Eton Manor.

Mustafa, who was born in Finland, told CFC News: “I joined Clapton because i have a good relationship with the players and staff.

“I also love the atmosphere at the club and i know I’ll enjoy my time at the club. I also have faith in our team to do really well this season. Good bunch of guys willing to cause many upsets.”

Jordan Meikle (centre-back)

Former clubs: Sporting Bengal, Enfield 1893, Wadham Lodge

A seasoned Essex Senior League centre-back who started his career at Sporting Bengal, playing under Anwar Uddin and Steven Clarke.

He then spent time at Enfield 1893 and was most recently at Wadham Lodge under James Falaise & Kevin Lucas before a foot ligament injury ruled him out of the final games of the season.

He told CFC News he had a few offers from other ESL teams for the upcoming season, but decided that “Clapton was the stand out. Personally I felt it is the right club for me to develop and improve.”

Jordan is eager to push on from where Clapton finished last season as runners up and is looking forward to getting started.He learned about the team from former Ton James Briggs and experienced Clapton supporters firsthand as captain of their Sunday league team Downs FC.

Manager Jonny Fowell has said: “So glad to get Jordan on board, experienced centre-back and will improve our squad this season. Fans will love him. Welcome J”.

Jesse McKenzie (centre-back)

Former clubs: Bromley FC.

Jesse told CFC News: “I’m 18 years old, last season I played for and captained Bromley FC academy side. I’m a ball playing centre half that enjoys a good challenge.

“I’ve signed for Clapton because I feel that I’ve got a lot to learn and Clapton to is the best place for me to improve physically and also enhance my game understanding.”

Manager Jonny Fowell said: The staff are excited about this young 18-year-old centre-back. The former Bromley FC academy captain could be a real gem in the making”

Jeffrey Cobbiah (winger)

Former clubs: Bethnal Green United, Jolof Sports, East One

Jeffrey Was most recently with Jolof Sports in the Essex Alliance, where he scored 31 goals in 25 game last season.

Manager Jonny Fowell said: “Jeffrey is a silky skilful winger, quick direct and bags of skills. Came from Roy Fontaine who was at Enfield Town FC as 1st team coach.”

Craig Heskey (striker)

Former clubs: Clapton (2008/09), Sporting Bengal (2012/13), Harefield United (2015/16), Amersham Town (2016/17), Burnham Ramblers (2016/17).

Tons fans will be hoping that the goalscoring gene runs in the family as we welcome back Craig Heskey, cousin of former England international Emile.

Craig, 27, is an international striker in his own right. He played for Clapton 9 years ago and while at the club represented Antigua & Barbuda twice at under-20 level.

He was last seen at Burnham Ramblers in the ESL last season where he scored 4 goals in 10 appearances.

In a recent Dogcast interview, recently departed defender and last season’s Clapton player of the year Dylan Ebengo named Heskey as the best striker he had faced in the ESL in 2016/17.

Craig is also academy coach and a director of New Revolution Sports alongside Tons assistant Andre Thomas – the company that will be running Clapton’s U18s team this season.

Akin Obamakin (striker)

Former clubs: Barnet Youth, Tonbridge Angels Reserves.

Akin, 23, told CFC News: “Whilst studying in Birmingham I played for my university and had short spells at clubs in the Midlands area.

“Type of player: tricky, pace and hardworking and looking to score goals for Clapton FC!”

Manager Jonny Fowell said: “We are really excited about Akin, very quick, strong and direct. We believe he will do well this season. I really think once fit akin can cause defenders trouble with his pace. It’s frightening.”

Lee Flavin of Non League Chance said: “Delighted for our player Akin joining Clapton for the season. What a lovely lad. Hopefully he gifts you plenty of goals. He certainly has it in the locker.”

Caiden Imbert-Thomas (striker)

Former clubs: Euro Dagenham, Westhamians U21, Leatherhead U21, May & Baker

Caiden, 19, is the son of former Clapton manager Wilfred Thomas.

He told CFC News: “I signed to get first team experience with a good team that plays good football and with good management to guide me.

“I play as a false striker or a number ten I like to roam about and link up with my midfield. Also I’m creative and can score goals and assist too I’ve got good feet and a decent injection of pace but finding the net is a good strength too.

“I don’t see us doing anything but winning the league this year as the sides solid and good enough to do so.”

Breaking: Yusuf Bello

Eleventh signing announced today – more details to follow.

CLAPTON PLAYERS’ END OF SEASON AWARDS – THE RESULTS

Following on from the fans’ awards, organised by the Clapton Ultras after the final game of the season, the Tons’ players held their own get-together this weekend.

QPR Striker Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was the special guest to hand out the trophies to the winners of seven categories.

Here are the winners in full.

Player of the Season – Dylan Ebengo

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Player of the season Dylan Ebengo with assistant manager Andre Thomas (pic @claptonfootball)

Manager’s Player of the Season – Johnny Ashman

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Johnny Ashman with his fellow award-winner Dylan Ebengo (pic @claptonfootball)

Players’ Player of the Year – Dylan Ebengo

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Dylan Ebengo with his two trophies plus manager Johnny Fowell and coach Ray Bartlett (pic @claptonfootball)

Most Improved – Ryan Reed & Nathan Cook joint winners

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The joint winners Ryan Reed and Nathan Cook (pic @claptonfootball)

Nathan being joint winner was a testament to him surprisingly getting better in a new position

Mr Clapton – Jerry Jairette

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Jerry Jariette and his son  (pic @claptonfootball)

Best Newcomer – Lanre Vigo

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Lanre Vigo picks up his award from guest Jay Emmanuel Thomas and Clapton coach Ray Bartlett (pic @claptonfootball)

Golden Boot – Jay Knight

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The Golden Boot trophy (pic @claptonfootball)

Unfortunately Jay wasn’t there to pick up his award.

Here’s a reminder of who won what at the fans’ awards last month…

Player of the season – Johnny Ashman
Most improved player – Ryan Reed
Goal of the season – Steven Sardinha
Ultras’ favourite player of the season- Jerry Jairette

HACKNEY WICK TO MERGE WITH LONDON BARI, GROUND SHARE WITH CLAPTON

Earlier this week we reported that Hackney Wick FC had announced they would be merging with an existing Essex Senior League team, however it seems the rumours of that team being Haringey & Waltham Development FC were incorrect.

Hackney Citizen have revealed that it will in fact be Clapton’s co-tenants at the Old Spotted Dog, London Bari FC.

Bobby Kasanga, The Wickers’ founder, is quoted in the article as saying that the merger would be a “mix of the two entities”, despite the team using the Hackney Wick name.

Apparently Bari’s existing manager, as well as some first team players and some of the committee will stay on at the rebranded club.

Bari have always struggled for crowds, averaging just 17 this season, so the new club will be hoping to see some improvement in that department.

CAPTAIN OCRAN TO PLAY LAST GAME FOR THE TONS

Geoff Ocran lifts the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy last season (photo: Clapton Ultras)

The Tons’ captain and fans’ favourite Geoff Ocran has revealed that tomorrow’s season finale against Burnham Ramblers will be his last game for the club.

Ocran, an almost ever-present in the team for the last few seasons, has only played seven games this term – the last being the 3-0 loss away to Barking in September – as he has struggled to recover from injury.

As revealed in an interview with Clapton FC News in November, what started as a knee injury spread to his achilles – however at that point he was hopeful of a return in the new year.

Andre Thomas, Miles Hunter and Geoff helping fans collect for the Newham Recorder Toy Appeal in December 2015 (photo: Newham Recorder)

It was not to be though and yesterday Geoff, who at 32 years old is an Essex Senior League veteran, took to Twitter to announce that he will be leaving the club, although Clapton fans may be pleased to hear it’s not to join a rival:

With what should be another historic day on Sat for , this Saturday will unfortunately be my last game for !

This is mainly due to not being able to commit full time to football at this level next season (to clarify before the conspiracy theories starts) 😂😂

He then went on to thank the managers and coaching staff he has played under, thanking former Tons boss Mike Walther for making him captain and praising current manager Jonny Fowell’s decision to give the captain’s armband to his good friend Jerry Jairette.

In and , Clapton will definitely push on with the obvious choice as new club captain!

Thanking for what has been a great 3 seasons not to mention for making me Captain

Fans will mainly remember Geoff for his reliable performances in midfield, however an undoubted highlight for most will be him guiding The Tons to success in the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy last season and lifting the trophy as captain.

Those wishing to show their appreciation should make sure they head to the Dog tomorrow for our last game of the season, kick-off at 3pm.

Geoff playing against Clapton for London APSA in the 2012/13 season (photo: London APSA)

CLAPTON END OF SEASON FANS AWARDS – VOTE NOW

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Nathan Cook with two awards last year – but who will win this year/ 

It’s been another historic season for Clapton and now it’s time to do the impossible and pick your highlights.

Voting is open now for the best player of the year, the most improved player as well the Ultras’ player of the year, which is for the terrace favourite.

You can vote for anyone who has represented Clapton at any point in 2016/7 in these three categories.

We’ve also selected a shortlist of seven of the best strikes for a goal of the season category.

Everyone is allowed to vote – once only – with the polls open until Saturday, April 22 at noon.

The winners will be unveiled later that day, after the Tons’ final game of the season at the Old Spotted Dog against Burnham Ramblers.

Vote here

NEWHAM COMMUNITY LEISURE LIMITED FILES FOR VOLUNTARY LIQUIDATION

After reporting last month that Clapton Football Club 1878 Limited had failed to file its Confirmation Statement and was being threatened with being struck off, we can now reveal, in extremely worrying news for Clapton fans, that Newham Community Leisure Limited, the company and charity which holds the lease on The Old Spotted Dog Ground, has applied for voluntary liquidation.

In documents published by Companies House it is shown that the members of the trust entered voluntary liquidation and appointed a liquidator, Stewart Bennett, on 1st March 2017. The document is signed by Vincent McBean, Ransford Taylor and Trevor Gordon, who are listed as being the majority of the trustees of Newham Community Leisure Limited.

The documents also show that the trust owes £203,478 in ‘Long Term Loans’, as well as £2,001 in accountancy fees. The cost of liquidation until the payment of debts in full is estimated at £19,095.

At the moment it is unclear how this will affect Clapton FC. In the short-term it is understood that before the 31st March, the club have to provide the Essex Senior League and the FA with proof of their being able to play at the Old Spotted Dog for the entirety of next season. As the insolvency process can take some months, it is unknown how this could be provided. This may also affect London Bari FC who also play at the Dog.

The trust was set up in 1992 as Clapton Trust Limited before changing its name a year later to Newham Community Leisure Trust Limited. In January 1995, the then Directors of the trust negotiated a 99-year lease with the freeholder Grand Metropolitan Estates, securing the land for use as a sports ground.

It was struck off in 2003 after failing to file accounts, before being restored by Vince McBean in 2009. It appears from documents filed at this time that McBean attempted to transfer the lease from the trust, however it seems he was unable to do so. Since then the trust has regularly failed to file its Annual Return on time and has been threatened with being struck off twice. According to Companies House, the most recent Confirmation Statement (the newer form of the Annual Return) was due by 18th February 2017 and is currently overdue.

Clapton FC News understands that Real Clapton FC are in contact with the Charity Commission and the Liquidator in an attempt to safeguard the future of the ground. You can become a member of the club here and/or donate to their Supporters’ Action fund here.